By Cliff Smith
As we get older, weight gain seems to linger longer and is harder to prevent. Why is it easier to gain weight as we get older? One reason is that energy in the body is powered by calories. If our caloric intake stays the same or increases as we age, but our level of activity and our metabolism decreases, then unused calories end up as fat.
Why is it that many young people in their teens and twenties can eat whatever they desire and never gain an ounce? One explanation is that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns. “Aging muscles actually contribute to the increase in the amount of fat we store in our bodies," says Cheryl Phillips, president of the American Geriatrics Society. "So, if you look at a woman who is 70 years old and compare her to what her body was like at 25 years of age, even though her weight may be exactly the same, she had more percentage of muscle in her body when she was 25 than she does when she's 70."
Source: Why We Gain Weight As We Age
Part of the problem is that muscle cells actually disappear as our bodies get older. “When younger muscle cells get damaged, they're quickly repaired. That's not the case with older muscles,” according to UCLA researcher and geriatrician Jonathan Wanagat. One possible reason is that “…stem cells in the muscle are not able to respond to damage or to aging the way they did when we were younger," says Wanagat, “And if damaged muscle cells aren't repaired, they sort of whittle away and die.”
Our bodies make millions of new cells every day in our hearts, brains, bones and blood. Every time a cell dies, it should be replaced. If your body is not sufficiently nourished, rested, and balanced, it will not properly construct a new cell. It will either make an incomplete cell or none at all.
At UCLA, geriatrician and researcher Gail Greendale adds, “As we age, the immune system can get out of whack, turning on an inflammatory response when there are no bacteria or viruses to kill, and keeping it on long after the body's invaders have left. Such an inappropriate inflammatory response can actually damage one's own cells in whatever part of the body the inflammation occurs, whether it's in muscles, joints or organs.”
Some of the biggest factors that affect weight gain as we get older are stress, lack of sleep, little to no exercise, and poor eating habits. Anxiety, lack of sleep, and stress can trigger emotional, mindless eating. When you are stressed, it is common to use your favorite foods to calm down. In a study by the American Psychological Association, it was found that 40% of those studied dealt with stress by reaching for certain foods, the kind that bring back childhood memories. Unfortunately, when your body is not as youthful as your mind, those “comfort foods” can really pile on the calories.
Lack of exercise is another huge factor in weight gain as we age. Moving your body not only helps burn excess calories, it also works to speed up metabolism. Exercise can create an increase in muscle mass, which also increases metabolism and helps burn more fat. Exercise, even among individuals in their 80s, actually helps the muscle cells get bigger. Exercise also makes it easier for the body to handle stress while it improves mood, eliminating a couple of the major causes of weight gain as we age.
So, some of the best ways to lose weight or at least prevent weight gain as you get older are the same basics you learned long ago. Eat right, get plenty of rest and exercise, and avoid stress.
►To nourish, cleanse and balance the body, follow our Natural Weight Loss Plan
►Want to feel better with something healthier than “comfort foods”, like Mac ‘n Cheese or Chocolate Chip cookies? Munch these Healthy Snacks, instead.
►To better deal with stress, try ESE.
►To sleep better, sip Calli Night Tea.
►Looking for a perfectly natural health drink with no sugar? Drink Fortune Delight!
►Want a great exercise routine created by a doctor? Use Fitness Brigade.